Double whammy for north India as cold, fog intensify
Intense cold and dense fogs disrupted normal life in northern India on Monday, delaying several flights and trains as visibility was reduced to less than 25 meters. The weather department has predicted similar conditions for the next two days.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has attributed the fog and severe cold to cloud cover which has led to creation of a poor ventilation zone from Amritsar in the west to Gaya in the east, covering entire Delhi and parts of central and eastern Uttar Pradesh.
A cold wave was declared in parts of Odisha and West Bengal as a result of a cold plume that brought cold winds from north-westerly direction to eastern India. Sonepur in Odisha recorded minimum temperature of 5.4 degree Celsius, the lowest ever for the small town, even as Malkangiri, on the border of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, recorded the maximum temperature of 30 degree Celsius.
Officials said the impact of the cold north India was felt in parts of central India with minimum temperatures dipping by three to four degree Celsius in several places, including Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh and Nagpur in Maharashra.
The IMD said the ventilation condition is likely to improve by Monday evening but the fog will return due to a dip in temperature at night and low wind speed, which will also contribute to a spike in air pollution levels in the region.
The Central Pollution Control Board’s Air Quality Index (AQI) chart for cities also showed that most of the towns in the poor ventilation zone had severe levels of air pollution. For instance, Delhi’s AQI was 446, Noida’s 464, Kanpur’s 424 and Gaya 335.
Around 40 flights were cancelled and 20 others were diverted due to dense fog in Delhi. According to an official statement from the Delhi airport, the fog affected operations of about 500 flights with landing delayed up to five hours between 6 am and noon. Private airlines, IndiGo and Vistara, on Monday issued a travel advisory saying flights to and from the national capital have been impacted due to bad weather and poor visibility.
The Northern Railways in a statement said that about 30 trains were delayed with more than a seven hour delay in Bhubaneshwar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express and five hour for Puri-New Delhi Purushottam Express. Many of the trains coming from the northern region were running late and some were even cancelled due to fog.
The cold wave conditions intensified in Uttar Pradesh. Churk in Mirzapur district was the coldest which recorded 1.7 degree Celsius on Monday, the lowest in the last 50 years.
According to a met official, Muzaffarnagar at 3.3, Fatehpur at 3.6, Banda and Orai at 4 degrees Celsius were other coldest districts in the state. Lucknow was relatively better as the minimum temperature in the city was 6.7 degree Celsius in the early hours of Monday.
At 1 degree Celsius, Rajasthan’s capital Jaipur recorded its lowest temperature of the last 55 years. Before this, the lowest temperature in the city was recorded at zero degrees on December 13, 1964.
Besides Jaipur, large parts of Rajasthan are reeling under severe cold wave and fog conditions. Sikar was the coldest place in the state, recording a temperature of minus 0.5 degrees Celsius, which was 5.1 degrees below the normal.
Met office (western region) director Shiv Ganesh said the Western disturbance had created a cyclonic circulation over north-east and south-east Rajasthan, which had led to cold wave conditions. “The cold wave will continue for another 48 hours and will abate a bit after that,” said Ganesh.
“Beginning December 31, there will be three to four days of winter rain. A fresh western disturbance is very likely to affect western Himalayan region from December 30 night onwards,” said a press release issued by the Lucknow Meteorological Centre.
For the hill states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the IMD on Monday predicted fresh snow and rain on January 2 and 3.
Bikram Singh, director of Meteorological Centre in Dehradun said, “On January 2 and 3, snowfall and rainfall activity will occur across the north-western Himachal belt, but the intensity will be high in Kumaon region compared to Garhwal. In areas at a height of 2500m-3000m, one feet of snowfall is expected, in areas at 2200-2500m two to three inches of snowfall is likely to occur.”
Despite the winter chills, there was huge influx of tourists for New Year celebrations to hill stations in the two states. Traffic jams were reported on Shimla-Kalka highway, and in Mussourie and Nainital.
(With inputs from bureaus in Dehradun, Jaipur, Chandigarh and Lucknow)